Every year around this time, the coaching rumor mill kicks into gear.
As flailing teams watch the season slip away, a handful of doomed head coaches know they're not for long, soon to be replaced by The Next Guy.
Nobody benefits more from this ugly process than the surging, young assistant coach. Mike Klis of The Denver Post threw one name into the ring this week, citing Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as the best choice out there to take the next step.
"I don't know how Mike McCoy can't be on top of everyone's list," Klis said on NFL Network's "Total Access" on Tuesday. "... You can't get a much different quarterback from Peyton Manning to Tim Tebow. You can't get a different offensive system with the (read-option) that the Broncos had (to the) the no-huddle, spread passing offense with all the intricate pass patterns that Manning has going. And McCoy has been successful with that."
McCoy's work last season was excellent. The New York Jets have no idea what to do with Tebow, but McCoy -- in the course of a few weeks -- realigned Denver's offense to make the most of his quarterback's unusual gifts. That creativity -- that flexibility -- is prized in a head coach. It's exactly what has Sean Payton's name floating around this week.
It's more challenging to gauge McCoy's work with Peyton Manning. The joke is that McCoy is an OC only in title, while Manning grinds stones into diamonds. That's too easy. McCoy has proven he can work with a variety of passers and schemes and his name will be mentioned as teams look to fill vacancies after the season.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.